Saturday Special: Be the Change

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Hello, and happy Saturday!

It’s a gorgeous Saturday afternoon here, and I’ve spent the first half of my day journaling about what exactly it is I’m trying to do with my life, and it comes down to that tried and true advice from Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

I spend a lot of time thinking about my fantasy world in which there is no war, people are nice to each other, and everyone has enough to eat and a safe place to sleep. So, today I’m asking myself, “What can I do to help create that world?” I know I can’t do it on my own, but every little effort counts, right?

So, what’s your fantasy world look like, and how can you help create it? You don’t have to tell me. Just do it.

And now, here are some of my favorite bits from the internet this week.

Phew! These are heavy topics, right? That’s ok, we can lighten up a bit. For example …

  • Good news: I’ve added some new online yoga classes to my schedule!
  • This is a Bubbline Appreciation Post and Gallery (Spoiler alert here, as they discuss the plots of a few episodes, but it’s still excellent.)
  • Maybe You’re the Reason Anime is Dying. My friend Lauren is brilliantly nerdy. you’ve got to see her take on anime hipster bullshit.
  • Oh, and have you seen the new Ghost in the Shell? Because OMG it’s SO GOOD. I watched the first episode last week, and I’m dying for more. And for those who say Major Kusanagi looks too young the new trailer, that’s because this takes place before she joined Section 9, so you’re seeing one of her earlier prosthetic bodies. No, they did not dumb her down or make her wimpy. She’s as badass as ever, and I am still in love with her.

And last but not least, I forgot my phone.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and be nice to each other, ok?

xoxo,

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Getting Old Rules

Getting ready for a yoga class

In my 20s, I was pretty freaked out about turning 30. I was afraid of feeling old, but one of the coolest things about being 30 so far is that I have a new perspective on age. It’s not like on your 30th birthday a switch flips and you suddenly feel like a grownup … except that it kinda does? As a kid, when I saw someone who was clearly an adult yet not as old as my parents, I’d say, “Ugh, he’s like 30 or something.” It turns out though, that I was really off with my age estimates.

During my yoga teacher training, I became friends with a woman who I assumed was a little bit older than me, but not any older than 35 or 40. Turns out she was 50. I was surprised to realize most of the other women were between 50 and 60 while the oldest was into her 70s. Here were all these women over twice my age who were beautiful, radiant, funny, healthy, smart, and about to take on a whole new career. Many were considering teaching yoga part time after retirement. One was getting ready to circumnavigate the globe with her husband … on a boat they built themselves. These women had seen a lot, done a lot, and had nerve like you wouldn’t believe. Women over 50 were suddenly incredibly fucking cool to me.

This spring when I went to Betty Dodson’s workshop, well I might never stop writing about the things I learned that weekend. Let me just say she removed all of my fear of aging in one fell swoop. Sure, things don’t look like they used to at 84, but at that point, who’s judging you? If you can laugh and have an orgasm, what the hell else do you need? Suddenly, I’m kinda looking forward to getting old.

I don’t wanna hit fast forward on my life just yet, though. It turns out 30 is a lot more fun than I thought. Granted, I get excited about lame grownup things now, like recycling bins with wheels. Seriously. Get me one for Christmas. In other ways, I’m still essentially a child. I watch nothing on television but cartoons, for crying out loud, and if you wanna have a contest to see who knows the most detailed back story about “Adventure Time,” you are on, sir.

Every now and then, I look at the kids in my neighborhood, and I remember being their age, and a little part of me is sad that I’m not that young anymore. I tell myself if I were that age again, I wouldn’t take everything so seriously. I’d have more fun, worry less about other people’s opinions. But then I look at Betty and the women in my yoga class, and realize they would probably say the same thing about being my age. If anything, they might wish they took more risks, spoke up more often, had more fun, felt less guilt. So I try to do just that. So far, I’m only sorry I ever spent a minute worrying about getting old.

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For Now, My Career is My Baby

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I’m a 30 year old yoga teacher, and my career is my baby.

Sometimes I ask myself whether my wanting to have a career instead of a baby is a problem, like maybe that’s too selfish. The idea that it’s selfish to prefer my own personal development over motherhood has somehow been ingrained in me and many other women, but I truly don’t want children right now. I’m enjoying working on myself, and I have enough challenges without having to change diapers and wake up for 3 a.m. feedings.

For the first time in my life, I know I could handle being a mom. I know my husband and I could love and support a baby if we had one. I’m not opposed to being a mom one day, either. It’s just not at the top of my list right now. A lot of women seem to feel they have to make a firm decision and stick to it forever. Most women have at some point experienced a sincere change of heart on something, and been rewarded with derision and accusations of fickleness, one of many ways that misogyny thrives in our culture. But all I can say for sure is what’s true for me right now. I might want kids one day, but for now the answer is still no.

Plenty of my close friends have kids now, and while they seem to be happy, I don’t feel envious of them. If anything, I feel a little bit sad that the difference between moms and non-moms creates such a social gulf. I don’t feel left behind like they’re getting to experience some magical thing that’s unavailable to me. I’ve heard enough of their stories to believe that while parenthood is extremely fulfilling to many people, it’s no panacea. Nor do I think they’re missing out on something by being moms instead of pursuing careers.

It has taken me a long time to grasp that not wanting kids doesn’t make me selfish or weird. The popular characterization of childless women says if you don’t have a baby, it’s because you haven’t found the right person yet, you’re infertile, or you’re lesbian (and we just assume lesbians don’t have mothering instincts). If none of those things are true and you actually just don’t want babies, that’s when people start to look at you askance. Maybe you’re a cold person who can’t love and chooses a career to avoid the inevitable misery you would inflict on your young due to bad parenting instincts. Or maybe you’re just selfish and wanna spend your money on yourself instead of baby clothes. Or you’re just too young and stupid. People assume your priorities are screwed up or you didn’t get the memo about how to be a satisfied adult woman, in which it clearly states that now is about the time your ovaries are supposed to start aching. I actually had someone tell me I better get busy breeding before I turn 35 or else conceiving is going to be complicated. Apparently if you reach 40 and haven’t had a baby yet, adoption agencies become skeptical about whether you can even handle parenthood. Hooray for other people’s judgments!

In reality, I’m just really into what I’m doing right now. I’m married to my best friend. I teach yoga and write. I go out when I want to. I don’t change diapers. I travel when I can, sleep late, stay up late, and generally have a pretty good time of things. You can call that selfish if you like, but at least I know myself well enough not to have a baby when my priorities are simply elsewhere.

Based on the trends I’ve observed in my own life, I think that within 5 years I’ll switch from the “actively avoiding pregnancy” club to the “maybe we should plan a nursery in our next house” committee. But in the mean time, I’m pursuing my ambitions like a motherfucker (no pun intended), and I see nothing wrong with that.

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The Quotebook: Sweet Potato Queens

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Words of wisdom from The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love by Jill Conner Browne.

I always wished I could actually adopt this attitude. There was definitely a time in my life when I needed to hear this. Girls, if you’re worried about someone liking you, just tell yourself “another one will come along.” There are over 7 billion people on the planet, and you have got some seriously good shit going for you. Plenty of fabulous people are just waiting to appreciate your charms, so get the fuck out there and socialize with people who adore you and don’t worry about the schmuck.

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Feminism: We’re Not There Yet

SlutWalk NYC October 2011 Shankbone 4

I started having sex when I was about 17. I realize now that 17 is neither too old nor too young, but pretty normal. However, at the time the main messages I received from my parents, my school, and the media were saying, “Good girls don’t have sex. If you’re having sex, you’re bad, and bad things are going to happen to you. Furthermore, you will be in no position to protest because you will have done it to yourself.” That was only 13 years ago in the deep south, and based on the behavior we saw in the Texas state senate last night, I know things haven’t changed very much since then.

As a sexually active teen, I was smart enough to take precautions, but I knew that if I got pregnant or got an STD, I would have no one to turn to. Sure, my parents said I could tell them stuff, but could I really? Not without a whole lot of fear and shame. I didn’t want to be told that I was ruining my future or worse, disrespecting myself. I heard more than enough times that having sex was somehow degrading to me, which is complete bullshit because I was acting on my own desires and no one else’s. Still, I knew I couldn’t be honest with my parents, teachers, doctors and certainly not any of the priests at my Catholic school. Instead, I carried condoms with me, confided in my girlfriends, and made a point of knowing where I could get an abortion should I ever need one. I kept a $500 cushion in my bank account at all times because I heard that’s what an abortion would cost. There was no Planned Parenthood in my town, either, so I was prepared to drive several hours to the nearest clinic I could find on Google, which was in Texas. Later, when I moved to Texas to go to college, I made it my business to know where the nearest women’s health clinics were and their prices.

Aside from getting birth control pills and treating a couple UTIs, I never had to use those services, but I felt safer knowing where they were and that I could take care of myself. If my boyfriend left me, my parents disowned me, and I was pregnant with a baby I couldn’t take care of, I knew exactly where I could go and what I could do. Even now, happily married, I know that I could take care of a baby if I became pregnant, but should I need an abortion, I know where to go. That’s a pretty powerful thing, and young women need it. Young women need to know that they are in control of their own bodies. They need to know that they have the right to decide to become a mother or not.

What the Texas state senate showed the women of Texas and those watching from all over the world last night was that we still have to fight for sovereignty in our own bodies. We have to stand up for 13 hours explaining the issue to a bunch of men who don’t want to hear it. We have to scream from the gallery even if we might get arrested. And we have to stand up for one another. This is not a women-against-men issue, for the record. I am grateful to the male and female colleagues who stood by Wendy Davis to the end last night, but the sad truth is that the power over women’s bodies is still largely in the hands of rich, old, white men who cannot accept that women are human beings with a right to self-determination.

I hope we all remember Wendy Davis and her filibuster the next time a bill like this comes up, and it will, probably soon. We have come a long way, but we are not there yet when you can say a discussion of legally mandated pre-abortion sonograms is not germane to a discussion about abortion. When the movements of female senators can be blatantly ignored by the president of a mostly male senate, all is not right with the world. When the senate takes a vote after midnight and half the members aren’t even sure what they’re voting on but they vote anyway in hopes of forcing through legislation that the people don’t want, we’ve got serious work to do.

Yes, we all want to reduce the number of abortions taking place, but if you try to do it by making abortions illegal, it only results in more risky behavior. I know for my own part, 17-year-old me would have driven further than Texas. I would have sought other means of terminating any unplanned pregnancy. I very well could have made some dangerous choices, but I didn’t have to. I don’t want other women to face those choices.

If you want to reduce the number of abortions, educate kids about sex and their rights. Here is what you tell them:

  1. You own your body, and you are solely responsible for yourself. No one has the right to force, coerce or expect you to have sex when you don’t want to. You do not have the right to force, coerce, or expect sex from anyone else.
  2. Go masturbate. It’s not wrong. It feels good. You can’t get pregnant doing it. Furthermore, you’ll have better sex later in life if you learn to get yourself off now.
  3. Birth control is a many splendored thing. There are tons of options out there, and when practiced properly, most of them are pretty good. Masturbating with your partner is also lovely alternative to the boring old in-out act.
  4. Abortion is a safe, legal medical practice. It’s available to you as an option, should you need it.

Thank you, Wendy Davis, for standing up for all of us last night. Thank you Leticia Van de Putte for calling out the sexist bullshit on the senate floor. Thank you Kirk Watson for standing strong with your female colleagues. Thank you Royce West for fighting against the senate president’s abuse of the rules. Thank you to the audience in the gallery for raising enough hell to let the lawmakers know that we are watching them and we won’t let them trample women’s rights. Thank you to everyone on social media who put up a fuss last night and made sure the world took notice.

“Liberty and justice for all” is an extremely lofty goal, but every little victory is worth it. Stay alert. Stay strong. Stay true to your heart. The work’s not done yet.

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